Last week I borrowed the idea for Five Senses Friday from Green Ink and this week I am borrowing another feature from another lovely girl ('Father Ted' moment...allow me that...). This week I present Things I love Thursday (TILT), borrowed from Claire Askew at One Night Stanzas. Claire comes up with lists of things week after week after week (except this one, strangely) and her enthusiasm is almost boundless. I have no intention of attempting this every week but here's a few things I love for today.
I have a fair soft spot for the man with the biggest bald spot...popular philosopher Alain de Botton. He has a new book out just now so he is all over the UK media this week and I feel like I might mind... but I don't because I like him. The new book sounds fairly uninteresting, I have to admit, but we all have our peaks and troughs...even popular intellectuals with healthy book deals [STOP PRESS - unfair and flippant dismissal of book I haven't actually read - be back to talk about it again in a while when I've read it]. In the meantime you can see the clever shiny one doing a Q & A type feature for the Guardian newspaper (which my Mum insists on calling 'the Manchester Guardian' even though everyone else stopped calling it that quite some years ago!) here.
Well there had to be some music, didn't there? One of my favourite bands these days is the US bluegrass band Crooked Still. We saw them a couple of years ago at Celtic Connections in Glasgow and their singer, Aoife O'Donovan, has one of my all-time favourite voices. Here's a clip of the band with the old line-up (they have since changed their cellist and acquired a fiddler too):
oh and here's another one:
Who doesn't love a lighthouse? I took a walk out to our local one Scurdie Ness this week. Here it is:
And talk of lighthouses reminds me of a fantastic book about living in Scottish lighthouses called 'Stargazing' by Peter Hill. Highly recommended.
I am that total Robert Burns-loving English-person-living-in-Scotland and one of my regular dog walks takes me past this carving on a nearby lane (hope you can read it OK):
Here's the view up the lane from the stone:
and the view down:
Every single time I pass these words about Burns on the wall they make me smile (“a poet...and look how important he is!”). So why is it here? Although Burns lived in the west of Scotland for most of his life his father came from the farming area of the Mearns in the east (just up the road from here) and Robbie did make at least one journey up this way (details of it here, halfway down the page).
Just this week a group of young Scottish men, the Paul McKenna Band, played at our folk club and performed the Burns song 'The Learig' (a song also beautifully done by Karine Polwart on her cd of traditional songs 'Fairest Floo'er'). I couldn't find that song by either of them on youtube or myspace so you'll have to go and hear them both live. The Paul McKenna Band are all so young that it did make me think about the debate of late re are there/aren't there enough young Scottish poets about the place. I don't really have an opinion on that particular poetry question (other than to say that poetry is such a weird business/specific case and that very often writers don't develop an interest in, or a talent for, writing it until later in life anyway) but I do know that the folk clubs of this country (and indeed other countries too) are regularly visited by loads and loads of amazing and exciting young Scottish musicians, singers and songwriters. I know it is a very vibrant and varied scene just now with all kinds of styles and sounds going around. Just nobody mention the word 'dangerous'...
Often when I like a poem it is just one line (or group of words) that does it for me. On the BBC Radio 4 programme 'Lost Voices' about Rosemary Tonks they featured her poem 'Story of a Hotel Room' and as it was read aloud this line jumped out at me:
“To make love as well as that is ruinous”
Great stuff, eh? To read the whole poem get a copy of Bloodaxe's anthology 'Being Alive' (or just go here if you're cheap...or skint...).
I'm the same with song lyrics – sometimes just a couple of words can do it. I was sorting out all my vinyl records this week and I came across my LP of Paul Simon's 'One Trick Pony' (wasn't I writing about it just the other day? Oh yes I was - here). On the song 'Oh Marion' these lines appear:
“the boy's got brains
he just abstains”
Now those words in that order... I love.
I also love...hearing songs on the radio that you haven't heard for ages. Patti Smith's 'Because the Night' was in the charts in 1978 (when I was eleven) and I remember taping it off the radio (with a cassette – sellotape over the tabs and ker-lunk). Tom Morton played it on Radio Scotland one afternoon this week – what a song. You can find it here.
Hope you loved some of these too. See you soon.
5 hours ago